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Colorado News Miner 105

Trump ballot case, Republicans, preschool, crime, police abuses, Christian nationalism, price controls, legislative updates, and more.

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
March 5, 2024

Trump Ballot Case: David French perfectly summarizes the Supreme Court's action on the Trump ballot access case: "The Supreme Court has effectively replaced a very high bar for allowing insurrectionists into federal office—a supermajority vote by Congress—with the lowest bar imaginable: congressional inaction." Radley Balko writes, "It's been clear for 25 years, but today really underscored that the only consistent principle among the court's conservative judges is the desire for conservative outcomes. Federalism, originalism, textualism—they're all just a means to an end, readily abandoned when inconvenient." Ken White writes, "Conventionally decorous fascism is apparently preferable to a chaotic and complicated Republic." Mario Nicolais says, "SCOTUS demonstrated that when they have a preferred outcome, they would let nothing stand in their way."

Wadhams: Dick Wadhams will not vote for Trump for president. (Not that the vote in Colorado will be close.)

GOP: The state Republican Party sent out a mailer attacking the Gazette, Phil Anschutz, Nikki Haley, and Jeff Crank—who happens to be the Congressional primary opponent of Dave Williams, also the chair of the state party. See Sandra Fish's report. Mandy Connell writes, "David Williams is using GOP donor money for his own gain. . . . [S]omeone needs to be the one to demand David Williams be booted by the party before he destroys it in service to himself." Kelly Maher called the GOP action "deeply corrupt."

Preschool: The more I think about it, the more I think Polis's "universal pre-K" program was a mistake. Government should have just made sure that private preschool providers do not face unnecessary burdens of taxes and regulations, then just subsidized poor families, no strings attached (assuming it was going to spend money on poor families). The preschool program has had a lot of problems. Brian Eason reports, "The more enrollment grows for universal pre-K, the less state funding will be available for at-risk children to attend full-day preschool."

Crime: Carol McKinley: "David Pyrooz, a CU Boulder criminologist with the sociology department. . . and other social scientists followed 78 Denver neighborhoods and found that, after police scaled back their presence directly following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer and the COVID-19 pandemic, on average, property and violent crime reports increased 27.1% and 14.3%, respectively." Pyrooz told McKinley, "In general, people want better policing as opposed to more policing." I would say we need consistent and consistently rights-respecting policing.

Police Abuses: Colleen Slevin: "A 78-year-old woman who sued two police officers after her home was wrongly searched by a SWAT team looking for a stolen truck has won a $3.76 million jury verdict under a new Colorado law that allows people to sue police over violations of their state constitutional rights." Police got a warrant based on an imprecise iPhone identifier. Olivia Prentzel: "The Las Animas County Sheriff's Office will pay $1.5 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a man who says he was repeatedly stunned with a Taser while handcuffed, including once in the face."

Pew on Housing: Pew hosted a conversation with Oregon Governor Tina Kotek about housing and about Kotek's efforts to free up the housing market.

Clark: Kyle Clark appeared on the Get More Smarter podcast to discuss an immigration debate in Lakewood and the right way for journalists to handle "extremism." I'd start by using more-precise language than "extremism." Do you mean people conspiracy mongering, encouraging or anticipating violence, promoting racism, or what?

National Abortion Ban: Reversing his previous stance, congressional candidate Mike Lynch said he'd support a national abortion ban. Former GOP state chair Kristi Burton Brown said, "Ending abortion should 100% be done at the federal level." Anyone paying attention has long known that the "state's rights" rhetoric was just a bullshit pretext to dissolve federal protections of abortion rights, on the road to an attempted federal ban of abortion. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to try to ban abortion in Colorado.

Christian Fascism: "I believe it’s God’s desire that Trump should be back in," said a speaker at an event at Charis Bible College outside Colorado Springs. "Christian principles are once again going to permeate the culture," said another speaker. Pastor Andrew Wommack complained about having a governor who is gay and a legislator who is transgender. See also Logan Davis's latest article on Christian nationalism.

Drug Price Controls: In case you didn't know, Colorado has a Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board, responsible for setting price controls on drugs. Critics "believe that if Colorado limits what pharmacies can pay for them, manufacturers won’t sell the drugs in this state," Ed Sealover reports. In general, if your answer is "price controls," you are asking the wrong questions. Price controls are the epitome of short-sighted policy that ignores longer-run implications. Meg Wingerter reports related news: "Colorado’s EpiPen cost cap has proven trickier to implement than the state’s limits on insulin expenses, with some families struggling to find a pharmacy that will sell them the medical devices for the required $60."

The Wages of Price Controls: A man who shut down his Denver restaurant said, "All you idiots running this town can do is raise the minimum wage, running small-business owners out of business."

Weiser's Antitrust Crusade: AG Phil Weiser is absolutely convinced he knows how to run Colorado businesses better than do the people who own them. Recently Weiser blocked contracts between an anesthesiology practice and various hospitals. You'll notice that Weiser makes no effort whatsoever to push for the rollbacks of the government regulations that encourage centralization in health care. The damaging monopoly player in health care is the government. Weiser is also among those seeking to block the Kroger-Albertsons merger.

Colorado Christian University: Jeff Hunt is out as the head of Colorado Christian University's Centennial Institute. Good.

Tyler Boebert: Rep. Boebert's son Tyler, 18 years old, "and three underage pals [allegedly] swiped credit cards from people's cars and tried using them at gas stations and other places," Westword reports. Jayson Boebert blamed the "Covid shut down" for the crime spree. Boebert should leave the People's House and try to get her own house in order. Regarding media coverage, someone asked Kyle Clark why 9News wasn't covering the story more. Clark answered, "I wrestle with whether the actions of an adult son of a public figure are newsworthy, particularly the level of coverage I've seen. And especially because the adult son didn't invoke the public figure to avoid consequences nor did the public figure make any excuses for the son." To me, of relevance is that Lauren Boebert acts as though she's qualified to dictate to others how they plan their families in key ways.

Rep. Epps: Elisabeth Epps attended the first 44 days of the legislative session remotely due to an "extended health condition," Sandra Fish reports.

Unions and Labor Laws: Quite the lede from Jesse Paul: United Food & Commercial Workers Local 7 "violated federal labor law in its treatment of its internal, union-represented employees by refusing to bargain with them in good faith and by inviting workers to resign in response to their complaints about working conditions, an administrative law judge found." To reiterate my position: I think the proper role of government is to ensure peaceful, consensual interactions, not to place its thumb on the scales for employers or employees.

Legislative Updates

Tobacco Prohibition: Linda Gorman: "Senate Bill 24-022 . . . lets county commissioners make it illegal for minors to possess cigarettes, tobacco products, or nicotine products. . . . The bill also lets counties reprise Prohibition by completely forbidding the retail sale of 'cigarettes, tobacco products, oral nicotine products, including prohibiting the sale of any or all flavored cigarettes, flavored tobacco products, or flavored nicotine product' to adults." So stupid.

Open Records: Jeffrey Roberts: "A reworked Colorado Open Records Act bill endorsed by a House committee . . . shifts the legal burden of proving that a requester of records is 'vexatious' to a government entity’s records custodian."

Open Meetings: Bill 157 would loosen up the open meeting laws somewhat. I think that's probably a good idea. Legislators need to be able to have private conversations sometimes. See the 9News report.

Hidden Fees: Merissa Ventrelli describes Bill 1151, allegedly about "hidden fees." But she doesn't give a concrete example of these alleged hidden fees. She mentions "concert tickets," but I've bought numerous concert tickets, and all the fees are listed before you hit the "complete order" button (or equivalent). The bill refers to disclosure of fees in ads. Is this a real problem? I'd like to see examples of ads that list a price, exclude some fee, and fail to mention that there are tack-on fees. I agree that ads that list prices should at least mention if there are extra fees. But, so far, I'm not convinced new legislation is needed to address the problem, if it's even a problem. As Ed Sealover reports, "the state government already is starting to tackle the issue even without a law in place."

Sterilization Mandate: John Frank has out a great piece on a bill that would require "animal rescues to spay and neuter [more] pets." But, as Frank reviews, it's healthier for some animals to be sterilized at an older age. (I haven't check in on the bill's revisions.)

Legislative Pay: Legislators want higher pay, John Frank reports. My proposal: Each legislator gets an extra $500 for each day the legislature closes early.

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